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Pittsburgh braces for more clashes at G-20 summit

PITTSBURGH – Riot police turned back hundreds of protesters trying to march downtown on the first day of the Group of 20 summit Thursday, arresting nearly 20 people as authorities braced for smaller, scattered protests at dozens of businesses and organizations Friday morning.

Police, in an overwhelming show of force, declared the march illegal almost as soon as it began, firing rubber bullets and canisters of pepper spray and smoke after small bands of anarchists responded to calls to disperse by rolling huge metal trash bins, throwing rocks and breaking windows.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl commended police for their “swift decisions to send a message to the anarchists that we will not tolerate unlawful behavior,” adding there was minimal property damage as a result.

Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper said 17 to 19 protesters were arrested and charged with misdemeanors, mainly failure to disperse and disorderly conduct.

Protesters complained about the city’s response, saying their rights were trampled and that violence would not have broken out if police had allowed the marchers their say.

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